Fasting & feasting

Fasting & feasting

Fatima Taneem Aftab savours all things feast-worthy during the holy month of Ramadan

Tandoori items at Mohamed Ali Road, Mumbai. PHOTOS BY AUTHOR

India’s rich and varied culinary tradition is a delight to every food lover and the month of Ramadan (pronounced Ramzan in India) brimming with its delectable delicacies, keeps the food tradition alive.

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar is the month of fasting from dawn to sunset for Muslims throughout the world; fasting being one of the fundamental pillars of Islam. This month is marked by prayers, charity, self-discipline. The pre-dawn meal is called Suhoor (sehri) and the meal taken at sunset to break the fast is called Iftar. The simple prophetic tradition of breaking the fast with dates and water is still being practised by Muslims worldwide. Iftar is followed later by a more elaborate and grand meal.
Throughout India, the month of Ramadan is observed with fervour and zeal by Muslims. The month is not only spent in worship and good deeds but also feasting on a wide array of traditional and exotic delicacies. In almost every town and city across India, Ramadan’s special foods and drinks are savoured either in Muslim homes, eateries and at the numerous make-shift food stalls especially put up for this month. These food stalls selling dates, fruits, juices, sherbets, sweets and savouries are commonly available in every nook and corner of the country, more so within the Muslim neighbourhoods with their tantalising aromas of biryanis, haleems, sweets, meaty delights and other freshly fried or baked goods filling the air and whetting one’s appetite. Below are outlined few such cities which showcase their distinct Ramadan food flavours:

Chicken harees
Chicken harees


An array of delights await customers at legendary eateries and roadside stalls, be it the samosas, kebabs, tandooris, tikkas, qormas, biryanis, paaya, etc with special exotic Ramadan offerings of liver, brain, tongue delicacies. But the crowd puller is the nihaari (slow-cooked meat stew), quail roasts and baida rotis (meat and egg stuffed fried rotis).

Mohammed Ali Road and its vicinity in and around the Menara Masjid in Mumbai are highly recommended for a culinary trip in Ramadan after 6 pm.

A bowl of haleem
A bowl of haleem



Old Delhi becomes a visual treat with traditional eateries, food joints and pop-up stalls loaded with assortments of kebabs (sutli, shammi, dori or boti), tikkas, haleem, biryanis (especially the achaari-flavoured) along with popular snacks. In Ramadan, the nalli nihaari (slow-cooked meat stew with marrow) served with khamiri rotis is an all-time favourite.

Snacks avaialable during Ramadan
Snacks avaialable during Ramadan



The City of Nawab brings out the best of its cuisine during Ramadan from the subtle Lucknowi biryani, zafrani pulav to rich qormas, kebabs and snacks. The most famous kebabs are the tunday kebabs and the Galawti kebab with the exotic delicacies of liver, brain, etc being sought after. The kulcha nihaari is a favourite with all. Sheermal (saffron-flavoured flat bread, lightly sweetened and garnished with dry fruits, cherries and coconut) is very popular in Ramadan.


The City of Nizams doles out its cuisine extravagantly during Ramadan with the iconic haleem (slow-cooked stew made with mashed meat, wheat, barley, lentils and spices) extensively available. Besides this, the renowned Hyderabadi biryani, qormas, kebabs, sheermal are popular and sweets like qubani ka meetha (made with dried apricots) and double ka methai are extremely famous.

Dates for Iftar
Dates for Iftar


The Silicon City of India celebrates Ramadan with mouth-watering delights wafting the atmosphere, be it the sizzling kebabs, tikkas, tandooris, shawarmas, biryanis, haleems with the exotic Ramadan special being the camel meat roast or seekh kabab, the teether and bater (quail) roast and the special goat brain puffs. Badam hareera is the popular almond-milk beverage along with faloodas and lassis.

The Sulaimani chai stalls are also frequented by many.

Places in and around Russel Market in Shivajinagar and Mosque Road in Frazer town are worth checking out.


The traditional Malabar foods are elaborately made and sold during Ramadan along with the traditional thari kanji (a flavourful porridge made with semolina and coconut milk) which is typically consumed during Iftar.

Rice flour-based snacks are ottada, sukhiyan, mutta surka, etc and the pathri varieties like chatti pathri, irachi pathri are consumed along with Kerala banana snacks like unnakkai.


During Ramadan, this city fills with the aroma of freshly baked breads and meaty delights along with refreshing beverages. The most popular beverages include Babribyol tresh (drink made with basil seeds) and kateer (drink of tragacanth gum).

The festival of Ramadan brings traditional foods and beverages into the limelight across various cities and towns all over India and these epicurean delights are feasted upon by one and all.